By Seth Daniel
For such a long time, when it came to the GE site on Air Force Road, Everett residents and officials were accustomed to seeing plans on paper that were years away – and perhaps not even possible.
Now, however, paper plans move to real work at a breakneck speed courtesy of the Wynn Boston Harbor involvement, and the new RiverWalk is no exception. The attractive plan on paper is already being constructed on the old GE site, with completion scheduled for next spring – establishing an amenity on the Malden River that will be cherished for years to come and will be featured in the final Malden River Greenway meeting Wednesday in Everett at the BNY Mellon property.
“We have started the work on the RiverWalk south portion of the walkway,” said Jennie Peterson this week on the site. “Right now they are working on the scenic overlook portion and pre-loading it with organic soils to help pack it down. That will go on for about six to eight weeks. The build out of the RiverWalk will be very quick. Then, next spring we’ll come back and do the plantings.”
Right now, work is being concentrated on the central feature of the RiverWalk, which will be a scenic overlook area with a large 150’ x 100’ piazza at the cul-de-sac of the new RiverGreen Boulevard on the site. That will include parking for RiverWalk users, and also a shade structure with lighting, tables and places to relax.
“We think this will be a great feature for people to come out and enjoy the river and eat lunch and relax a little,” she said.
The area will also be equipped with electricity so that musical performances can be accommodated.
The 10’ asphalt path that is the RiverWalk south is part of a Chapter 91 requirement for the Wynn Boston Harbor business relocation effort at the RiverGreen site. As the new Boston Freightliner building is constructed with the new RiverGreen Boulevard and accompanying utilities, the riverfront access is also being constructed.
The pedestrian and bicycle path will start on Air Force Road and go up South Creek and wind its way through wetlands until it gets to the scenic overlook. From there, the RiverWalk north – which won’t start until later – will pick up and continue over to the Northern Strand Bike Path near the Madeleine English School.
Corey Jackson of CMB Construction said they will be getting the path ready throughout the rest of the fall, stripping and grubbing up the subsoil to prepare a base for the path.
That work will continue for the next three or four week.
He and Peterson said they expect to have the RiverWalk south portion open in the spring, with new plantings coming in April.
It will be the culmination of a dream that goes back many years, even to a developer who previously had a rough sketch of the RiverWalk that Wynn Boston Harbor used to start. However, it was just a paper idea, but one that is now becoming a real idea that will unlock a portion of the Malden River closed off to residents for two generations.
That will be a major focus on Wednesday, Oct. 4, when the Malden River Greenway initiative wraps up its public meetings in Everett.
In a 2016 meeting, Mayor Carlo DeMaria discussed his vision for the Malden River, including increasing access to the river with canoe and kayak launches, fishing piers, bike paths, and new parks such as the RiverGreen Park at GE. The Mayor’s administration is currently working with the Friends of the Malden River, the Mystic River Watershed Association, and MIT to examine increasing recreational opportunities on the river.
“Last January in my State of the City speech I asked people to imagine a restored waterfront with walking trails, a viewing hill, and many other amenities along the Malden River,” he said. “That vision is becoming a reality today with the construction of the Malden River Walk at RiverGreen Park. I want to thank the Wynn team for their commitment to the residents of Everett. With the Malden River vision plan, we will look at other opportunities to create more open space and connectivity along the river.”
Also in attendance on Wednesday will be state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Martin Suuberg, who has taken a keen interest in the thriving partnership around getting back to the Malden River.
“We look forward to continuing our cooperative work with community leaders, advocates and citizens of Everett, Malden, and Medford as they plan and implement a transformative vision for public access to and along the Malden River,” said Suuberg. “By reopening access to the river, residents will also greatly expand their active and passive recreational options.”
Already two meetings have taken place for the Greenway initiative – the kick off in Malden and a follow-up in Medford at the Tufts Boat House. The final meeting will serve to highlight access on the Everett side, which is quickly become a complete reality. At the Medford meeting, designers for the Greenway unveiled initial ideas for the corridor, which included a new Parkway type roadway that would run from Main Street and through the RiverGreen site and back out to Santilli Highway/Norman Street. It is designed to allow Everett residents the ability to get down to RiverGreen easily by car or bike. Those early designs will be on display once again on Oct. 4.
The final public meeting is tonight, Wednesday, October 4, 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Village Landing Park, 135 Santilli Highway (parking will be available in BNY Mellon parking lot).